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Archive : August 2009

August 22, 2009

TAYLOR POTTS FACIAL HAIR UPDATE

Not sure if it still intact...but as of two weeks ago, Texas Tech QB and former AHS Eagle Taylor Potts had a huge handle bar mustache.

Whether or not he keeps it into the regular season is yet to be determined, but I'll do my best to keep everyone posted on the relationship between a straight-edge and Potts' face.

COWBOYS FLASH NEW STADIUM AND HUGE POTENTIAL

As I said last week, I think it's foolish to look at final scores in a pre-season game to determine how good or bad a team is.

The Cowboys showed signs of life against the Raiders last week in a 31-10 loss and definitely had areas to improve in a 30-10 stomping of Tennessee. But the theme is the same: This team can be really, really good.

On a night that Jerry Jones unveiled his 1.15 billion dollar stadium to the NFL world on a national stage, the Cowboys showed why I think they will win 12 games this year and win their first playoff game since before I could legally drive.

The Dallas offense absolutely shredded a very good and well-coached Titan defense. And the Cowboy defense didn't allow a first down until Tennessee's fourth possession.

And Tennessee isn't Oakland. The Titans won 13 games last year and started 10-0.

Tony Romo hit 18 of his 24 1st half passes including a couple of dropped balls. He spread the ball around. We ran the ball well. Utilized our backfield in the passing game. Romo improvised and made things happen. We're versatile, talented, experienced, tough and smart.

I'm not the ultimate optimist. Our special teams need some serious work. Nick Folk has already missed two field goals in two games. Our coverage has been terrible. And we're giving up way, way too many penalties.

But when your offense goes on a 15-play, 90 yard drive that ends in a 1 yard TD run? Kind of takes the pressure off the Special Teams.

We didn't have more than five possessions ALL YEAR in 2008 that went 15 or more plays or 90 or more yards.

We marched down the field like the Cowboys teams of the early 90s. That team would get the ball and, as fans, we just got used to them enforcing their will on anyone they played.

Emmitt Smith up the middle for five. Completion to Michael Irvin for 8. Smith again for four. Smith for 2. Completion to Jay Novacek for 10. Smith for 6. Alvin Harper 40 yard bomb. Smith TD.

Boom. That easy.

Today it's much more of the same except the names are Romo, Roy Williams, Jason Witten, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Martellus Bennett, Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd.

If everyone stays healthy, there's no reason this team can't win 12 games.

The offensive potential speaks for itself.

And defense? The best defensive player in the league is on our team. We have an unblockable nose tackle and better-than-average ends. Our linebacking corps is not good...it's great. Our secondary is full of ridiculous athletes and attitude.

Once the special teams comes around...watch out.

And you can call me a homer all you want, but I'm calling it like I see it.

What better way to validate spending over one billion dollars on a stadium than to break the playoff win drought and even go beyond that...the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl.

This is the longest Super Bowl drought in the HISTORY of the Cowboys. It's time for that to streak to end.

And the way our starters looked last night? We've got a long way to go, but the potential is there, and it makes me happy.
  • mark rogers
  • August 22, 2009 9:40 PM

August 15, 2009

THOUGHTS ON COWBOYS FIRST GAME

OK all you Cowboys' pessimists out there...calm down. Getting smeared in a pre-season game (the FIRST pre-season game) means absolutely nothing.

It drives me crazy when people look at a final score of a pre-season game without even watching the game and say, "oh man, we're terrible." Makes no sense.

The Cowboys starters were in the game as a complete unit for basically two series.

The first one started inside the 10 and was just terrible. Blame it on first game jitters.

However, the second series was a thing of beauty. We looked unstoppable. And I love Marion Barber with all my heart, but Felix Jones is the key to my predicted 12-4 season.

When he's in the game, we're a force to be reckoned with. He opens up the passing game and gives the offense a speed threat out of the backfield we haven't had since Tony Dorsett.

Let Barber start. Let him score TDs. But unless Jones touches the ball 15-20 times per game, we will not reach our potential...period.

Tony Romo looked sharp on the TD pass to Jason Witten. He scrambled, dodged and weaved until he found a nearly impossible window and threw it to the only place Witten could have grabbed it. No sweat. That's what he does.

Martellus Bennett (or Marty B as he calls himself) is going to be a force as well. Oakland defenders were bounding off him like he was made of one of those big inflatable castle things. He should have a huge year.

And when Witten and Bennett line up on the same side right off the offensive tackle? That's a tough assignment for any defense. A plethora of offensive possibilities.

Our goal line offense looked pretty strong as well. Barbers TD was called back due to a meaningless holding call, but Leonard Davis and Marco Columbo pushing forward with Deon Anderson leading the way for Barber? Good luck stopping that freight train of mean-man-muscle. I could score behind that wall of man-monster.

On the defensive side, there was really one thing that stood out to me: Jay Ratliff.

I know he made the Pro Bowl last year, but this kid is unbelievable. And he'll never get the credit he deserves because no one keys in on just the nose tackle on every play. If you want to see how to play defensive line, that's exactly what you should do...just watch Ratliff.

One-on-one, he is unblockable. He made a few plays that you may have noticed, but if you go back and watch him on the plays that he doesn't make? No one on the Oakland line could stop him by himself. He was double and triple teamed the whole time he was in there, which is what every team we play will have to do. And that will open up lanes for our ends and inside linebackers to step up and make plays.

Ratliff is the key to our defense. If he gets hurt...it's all over.

Of course I noticed DeMarcus Ware in all his ridiculously awesome glory...but that's to be expected. He should have another big year.

I was impressed with Anthony Spencer in pass coverage and Victor Butler showed signs of being a solid linebacker one of these days.

Jaison Williams just looked totally lost most of the time. Poor guy. To be expected though. he's learning a new position.

Nothing else really surprised me or stood out.

I expected Romo and Roy Williams to click, which they did on a couple of plays. I expected Marion Barber to run hard. I expected penalties on special teams. I expected a few dropped passes.

That all just comes with being the first pre-season game.

I'm sticking to my guns and still saying we're going 12-4 and will make it to at least the NFC Championship game.

But there are two keys to our team: Felix Jones and Jay Ratliff.

If those two guys stay healthy and produce. 9th Super Bowl appearance...here we come.

I feel sorry for Houston Texan fans...they think there are two NFL teams in Texas. Poor things.
  • mark rogers
  • August 15, 2009 10:14 PM

August 7, 2009

COWBOYS CLIFFS NOTES

For those of you too busy to read the Cowboys Blog on a daily basis...

Romo and Roy (Williams) are clicking.
1st pick Jaison Williams is a great athlete but learning a new position and behind mentally.
Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick are in a great battle at CB.
Leonard Davis is playing some at LT in case Flozell goes down.
Tashard Choice missed yesterday's practice with a sore shoulder.
Terrence Newman is completely healthy and looks great.
Anthony Spencer is playing well and hopes to take advantage of all the attention that will be given DeMarcus Ware.
Rich Gannon ranked Tony Romo the best QB in the NFC East.
Michael Jackson was planning on performing at Cowboys Stadium.
TO is no longer a Cowboy...just thought I'd throw that in.
  • mark rogers
  • August 7, 2009 9:02 AM

TWO-A-DAYS: PREPARING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

Full pads are hot. Really hot.

High school football players across the state started fall practice earlier this week. It's an exciting time in the life of a football player because it means the season is close. The glory is close. The playoffs are close...for some.

Not all schedules are the same, but many teams will practice very early in the morning - take a break - then practice again around 10 to be done by lunch time. Other teams practice early in the morning then come back later in the afternoon to finish up. And that's just two-a-days.

Most days, teams just work out once and that's it. Either way these kids are out in the heat in full pads for hours and hours and hours.

When I played at ACU under Gary Gaines, we would practice at around 7 AM. Take a break for lunch. Have about 60 minutes to take a nap before heading back to the field house to get taped. Practice at 3. Break for dinner. Practice at 8. THAT was brutal.

It's true...working out twice (even just once) a day in full pads in 100+ degree weather will have an impact on these high school football players for the rest of their lives.

It teaches mental toughness. You have to learn to trick your mind into taking things one period or drill at a time. You can't think about how hot it is or is going to be.

It also connects you with your teammates. I am still very close with many of my high school buddies that I played football with...many of us talk on a weekly basis to this day. I don't believe that's the case for most people that go to high school in a "big" city like I did. It's different in the smaller towns (in my experience) because the smaller towns seem to be more connected for the most part.

My brothers didn't play football or any other sport, and I don't know of one high school friend that either of them ever talk to at any time.

It also gives you some perspective on the heat. To this day when I'm running, biking or outside exercising in the heat...it's never really all that bad because my brain automatically thinks, "well, it's not as hot as if I was in full pads."

And that will ALWAYS stay with you...it'll NEVER be as hot as if you were in full pads.
  • mark rogers
  • August 7, 2009 8:41 AM

August 1, 2009

OTHER FBS PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR

I think by now many of you are familiar with the big names in the Big 12 and the state of Texas: Colt McCoy, Taylor Potts, Case Keenum, Sergio Kindle, Jordan Shipley, Zac Robinson, Dez Bryant, Robert Griffin, and on and on...

But what I think makes college football season fun is knowing some key players to watch or key in on when you're watching games featuring teams outside the region...you know, the guys that will end up being stars in the NFL and you ask yourself and your friends, "where did this guy come from?"

I have a friend who recently told me, "Hey Mark, you should write an article on your blog about some guys in college football who are awesome but no one knows about." And I thought...hey, that's a great idea. So here goes...

My friend would like credit for his idea...his name is Terrell "Owens" Hinlee. I've changed the spelling to protect the innocent.

Here are some great athletes to watch for during the 2009 season:

Dan LeFevour - A senior QB at Central Michigan. He's the second player in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 and throw for 3,000 in a single season. The other? Vince Young. In 2007 only one other FBS QB rushed for more TDs than he did...that year's Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Central Michigan is picked by many to win its conference. So if you see them on the guide on your TV, don't just think "well, guess I'll be taking a nap during that game"...turn it on and watch LeFevour.

Colin Kaepernick - A junior QB at Nevada. He was the WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2008. He's another dual threat in the mold of LeFevour and the fifth player in FBS history to have 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. The guy is 6'6" and weighs 215. He's long, lean, has a canon for an arm and makes defenders look silly trying to run him down.

Jake Locker - Washington Huskies junior QB. He burst onto the scene in 2007 showing flashes of brilliance with his legs, but he needed big time improvement with his accuracy. He made some improvements but then missed most of 2008 with a thumb injury. You may remember him from the ridiculous celebration call that cost them a come-from-behind win over BYU early last year. He's 6'3" and weighs 222 pounds. Really a fun athlete to watch. You never know what he'll do next.

Jarrett Brown - West Virginia's senior QB. 6'4", 220 pounds. The guy is a beast. Not quite as big, but has the same body type as Penn State QB Darryl Clark. He was used as a bruising RB some the last few years, and the offensive coaches at WVU compare him to Eric Dickerson. So the guy can use his legs...he also has a career completion percentage over 60%. He'll make WVU a contender in the Big East.

Patrick Pinkney - East Carolina's senior QB. Pinkney was granted a sixth year of eligibility which is great news for ECU. He's only 6 foot, 200 pounds but he plays much bigger. Reminds me a little of a Daunte Culpepper or Steve McNair-type of QB. You may remember him from early in 2008 when he led ECU to back-to-back, upset wins over Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

MiQuale Lewis - Ball State's senior RB. He's what I like to call a "fire hydrant" runner. Standing just 5 feet, 6 inches tall but weighing in at nearly 200 pounds. Those kinds of guys are a nightmare to try and tackle. It literally feels like you're running head first into a fire hydrant. That would NOT be fun. Not only that, he set school records for rushing yards and rushing TDs last year. Reminds me of Maurice Jones-Drew.

Darren Evans - Virginia Tech's sophomore RB. A true freshman last year, Evans rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had an amazing 253 against Maryland. He's 6-feet, 213 pounds...bigger and faster than last year. One to look out for...

Jonathan Dwyer - Georgia Tech's junior RB. If the Texas Tech offensive system is perfect for giving QBs huge numbers, G Tech's is perfect for giving a good RB huge numbers. And Dwyer is the perfect RB for G Tech's system. He's big: 6-feet even, 230 pounds, and has breakaway speed (two runs more than 80 yards last year). He had an amazing 7 yards per carry in 2008 and was the ACC's Offensive Player of the Year. I would LOVE to see Georgia Tech and Texas Tech play...we can only hope for a bowl match-up.

Darrell Scott - Colorado's sophomore RB. A true freshman last year that was the #1 rated RB in the country by many experts. He was hurt most of 2008 but is fast, big (6-1, 200) and ready to live up to his hype. If he does, Colorado has a great shot at winning the North.

Jacquizz Rodgers - Oregon State's sophomore RB. Yeah, we all remember the 5-7, 190 pound true freshman dodging and darting his way through the ferocious USC defense on a Thursday night last year. A game that kept USC from playing for the national title. He ran for 186 yards to be exact. More than 5 USC opponents had in TOTAL offense against them last year. He ended up with more than 1200 yards, had 11 TDs and missed the last two games due to injury. And wouldn't you know it...Rodgers is from Houston.

Toby Gerhart - Stanford's senior RB. Want a reason to watch Stanford? Here you go. Gerhart is one of the most underrated RBs in the nation. 6'1" 240 pounds with breakaway speed. He can go the distance at any moment. He set a Stanford record with 1,136 rush yards last year.

Victor Anderson - Louisville's sophomore RB. Another small guy that runs huge. He's just 5'9" and weighs 185, but was the Big East Rookie of the Year with more than 1,000 yards rushing and eight TDs. He caught my attention early in the season last year with his elusiveness, quickness and fact that his name sounds a lot like "Mr. Anderson" from the Matrix trilogy.

And finally some receivers...

Dezmon Briscoe - Kansas' junior WR. You remember his one-handed, helmet catch against Texas last year, right? Easily the catch of the year in college football. Standing 6'3" and weighing in at 220, he had 1,407 yards and 15 TDs...ridiculous numbers. He has great hands and has a great chance to be an NFL starter, but he's day-to-day right now because of academics.

Arrelious Benn - Illinois junior WR. He's enormous for a receiver - 6-2", 220. He was WAY hyped out of HS but didn't really break out until his sophomore season when he broke the 1,000 yard barrier. He returns kicks and is used in many different ways. He's a game breaker and anytime he gets the ball he can score. He's a really fun football player to watch.

Golden Tate - Notre Dame's junior WR. The perfect name for a ND golden boy. He headlines what could be the best receiving corps in the nation...seriously. He's big, fast and had 131 yards receiving in his first college start. Easy name to remember, easy to team to watch since they're on national TV every four seconds.

AJ Green - Georgia's sophomore WR. It seems like every one of his highlights is a finger tip catch in the endzone. He's 6'4", 200 pounds and catches just about anything within his grasp. He was 1st Team SEC last year and should have an even bigger year in 2009.

DeAndre Brown - Southern Miss' sophomore WR. One of the most hyped WR coming out of HS. He's a whopping 6'6", 230 pounds and was a steal for the Southern Miss' staff. As a true freshman he was 1st team Conference USA with 1,117 yards and 12 TDs. There is one big question mark with him this year though, and you know what it is if you saw his leg snap in half during the bowl game...will he be 100%? Southern Miss thinks so. I hope so...it'll give me a reason to watch the Golden Eagles.

Vidal Hazelton - Cincinnati's senior WR. He'll play if the NCAA grants him eligibility. He was the nation's #1 overall prospect when he came out of HS and committed to USC. He played and was great at USC but transferred.

And finally my lone defensive player to look out for...(I could write for days about all the defensive freaks out there but I know that the offense gets all the glory):

Taylor Mays - USC's senior Safety/Neanderthal/Juggernaut. He's 6'3", 230 (but I think he's closer to 245), ran an electronically timed 4.3 40, has a 41" vertical, 6% body fat and was 1st Team All-American last year. He also anchored a secondary that allowed six passing TDs all year. His dad played for Washington and wouldn't let him play football until he was 13. He'll be a top 5 pick in next spring's NFL draft...guaranteed. And oh yeah - he used to do his homework with his football helmet on.

So there you have it...reasons to watch some teams you may not have watched before. I narrowed this list down from about 50 players that I think are noteworthy, but this post is probably too long as it is.

5 weeks from today!!!!!!!!